This easy Fruit Cocktail Cake recipe is going to be a quick family favorite. Serve it up for dessert or invite your friends for coffee – either way you’re going to love this old fashion cake. Made from scratch, NO box mix need. Simple to make and topped with a yummy Butter Sauce loaded with Coconut and Pecans!

 A slice of Grandma's Fruit Cocktail Cake topped with whipped cream and cherry Pin it to your CAKE  BOARD to save for later!

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When you think about fruit cocktail, what do you think of? If you’re like most people, you think about that sweet can of fruit Mom used to open for you as a kid. And unless you were an only child, you probably think of the squabbles you and your siblings had over those bright red maraschino cherries.

For me, fruit cocktail makes me think of fruit cocktail cake. More specifically, fruit cocktail dump cake, which has been a family favorite for years – not just now but ever since I was a kid.

My recipe for fruit cocktail cake is super easy to make. It’s literally a matter of three dishes. You’ll need a mixing bowl, a baking pan, and a saucepan. Seriously!

Grandma's Fruit Cocktail Cake in a glass baking dish

What is fruit cocktail cake?

Well, it’s kind of in a category all its own.

Fruit cocktail cake with butter sauce is similar to a coffee cake because the butter glaze adds that sort of texture to the top. You can serve it warm or at room temperature when you have your friends over for coffee (or tea) and it’ll do quite nicely.

But it’s a dessert cake, too. Fruit cocktail cake with glaze is always a fan favorite at church potlucks, school events or just family suppers. There are a few ways you can garnish the dessert to appeal to everyone – from your own kids to the president of the PTA.

It’s lighter than a fruitcake or a pound cake, so don’t let the name fool you. To put it simply, you’ll just have to try my fruit cocktail cake recipe for yourself!

If you search online, you’ll find quite a few variations of this dessert. It’s one of those desserts that some people embellish to make it more “interesting” or more “elegant.” My opinion? You don’t need all that.

The thing I love best about this recipe is that it’s just So. Darn. Simple. Like I mentioned, it’s a dump cake. You’ll pour each of the cake ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir. Then, while it’s baking, pour the fruit cocktail cake icing ingredients into a saucepan and heat. Done.

Some of the recipes you’ll come across online are similar to the Betty Crocker fruit cocktail cake. They call for similar ingredients to mine but use a cake mix for the batter.

I don’t use boxed cake mix in my recipe. That’s because, over the years, I’ve figured out that each cake mix comes out juuust a little different. Fruit cocktail cake with cake mix is unpredictable, at best, and I like sticking with the tried and true.

There are a few other notable recipes I’ve tried – the fruit cocktail cake recipe Paula Deen uses came out just fine, but it was super complicated to make compared to mine. The same was true for the Taste of Home fruit cocktail cake.

So, guys, I’m stickin’ with what I know best – the dump cake. Before you bake this one, I want to share a few tips with you.

A slice of Grandma's Fruit Cocktail Cake on a white plate

How to make Fruit Cocktail Cake:

First of all, you’re going to use one can of fruit cocktail. One. So you know what that means – just like you did when you were a kid, the kids are going to be arguing over those three maraschino cherries they put in the can.

To break up arguments before they happen, keep a can of Reddi-Wip and a jar of maraschino cherries on hand. When it’s time to serve your cake, just add a dollop of whipped cream and one or two cherries. Crisis averted.

Secondly, I mentioned that you can serve this cake at room temperature or warm. My family likes it best when it’s still oven-warm and oh-so moist. If you’re nibbling on yesterday’s fruit cocktail cake, you can heat it for a few minutes in the oven before you serve it.

That said, the cake will keep on the counter for a few days. I don’t, however, recommend that you store it in the fridge. The cold air changes the texture of the icing, and I promise you won’t like it as well.

If you do need a cake that you can prepare ahead of time and stash in the fridge, try my Pina Colada Sheet Cake. It’s just as fruity and won’t be bothered by the refrigerator.

Finally, it happens to the best of us. You’re unpacking your groceries and realize that you’ve picked up fruit cocktail in juice rather than in syrup. Or condensed milk when you meant to buy evaporated.

Again, happens to the best of us, but don’t let it happen to you! Fruit cocktail cake with condensed milk is a cavity waiting to happen, and fruit cocktail in this cake will be disastrous.

I’m not trying to scare you off, though! I can’t stress it enough. The cake is so very simple to make, and you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry.

Planning for a bake sale? Fix a fruit cocktail cake and a Strawberry Sheet Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting. They’re both quick and easy – and be sure to have copies of the recipe on hand. People will ask, trust me.

Grandma's Fruit Cocktail Cake in a glass baking dish

Recipe Notes for Fruit Cocktail Cake:

Keep it simple – One of the best things about this cake is that it’s so simple to make. Don’t overthink it. You may be tempted to use a stand mixer or even an electric beater. You don’t have to! Seriously, just dump your batter ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir. Using beaters or a Kitchen Aid may end up making your batter too dense.

Time the fruit cocktail icing – When I make this cake, I usually spend about 20 minutes in the kitchen, total. You can put the cake in the oven to bake, then come back later to make the glaze.

Remember, though, that it’s important that you add the glaze to a hot cake. So you’ll have to time your icing to make that happen. About 10 minutes before your cake is set to come out, place your glaze ingredients in your saucepan. You’ll want the ingredients to boil for about 1-2 minutes, then it’s ready to pour.

Mind your pan – You can use either a glass of a dark pan with this fruit cocktail cake recipe. Either should be greased before you pour the batter. Don’t forget that cake in a dark pan may bake faster than a cake in a glass pan. So be sure to set your timer to check your cake about 5 minutes before the recipe calls for.

A slice of Grandma's Fruit Cocktail Cake topped with whipped cream and cherry


A slice of Grandma's Fruit Cocktail Cake topped with whipped cream and cherry
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Grandma's Fruit Cocktail Cake

This easy Fruit Cocktail Cake recipe is going to be a quick family favorite. Serve it up for dessert or invite your friends for coffee – either way you’re going to love this old fashion cake! Made from scratch, NO box mix need. Simple to make and topped with a yummy Butter Sauce loaded with Coconut and Pecans!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 12 People
Author Kathleen



  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Large Eggs Lightly Beaten
  • 2 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Can (16 Ounce) Fruit Cocktail With Syrup Undrained


  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar Firmly Packed
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 3/4 Cup Pecans Chopped


  • Reddi Wip
  • Maraschino Cherries



  1. Adjust an oven rack to medium position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together all cake ingredients until well combined. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


  1. Meanwhile, make the topping by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil, stirring constantly,  for 2 minutes. Pour over hot cake and smooth evenly with an offset spatula. 


  1. Top individual slices of cake with a dollop of Reddi Wip and Maraschino cherries.

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Nutritional Information

Nutrition information will vary based on the specific products. To be safe, check the nutrition facts labels of your products. Optional object listed above have been left out of nutritional data.

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